By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HAMILTON - In line with Butler County's strict new stance on teen drivers, Magistrate John Bruewer suspended the licenses of at least 16 juveniles - more than half of those who appeared on the Juvenile Court's traffic docket Tuesday.
A few of the young drivers saw suspensions of 90 days because of previous violations. And even first-time offenders got 30-day suspensions - in accordance with a policy the court put into effect April 1 - after admitting they had exceeded speed limits by 15 mph or more.
"Thirty days will be over before you know it, but I hope you remember it forever," Bruewer told one young woman who said she drove 57 mph in a 40-mph zone because she was in a rush to get to school.
Many of the teens' parents asked for limited driving privileges so the teens could drive to work or school; Bruewer denied nearly all of those requests.
Bruewer told one father there was no way his son should be allowed any driving privileges after admitting he went 66 mph in a 45-mph zone on Liberty-Fairfield Road, an area Bruewer knows is hilly with lots of trees. "I've always thought 45 was too high, let alone 66. ... That scares the heck out of me," Bruewer said. He suspended that teen's license for 90 days, noting a moving violation in November.
Many parents in court Tuesday said they agreed that authorities need to crack down on young drivers after teen-involved crashes that killed 10 Greater Cincinnatians within the past seven weeks. In all but one case, the teen drivers were at fault, and speed was a factor in many of the crashes, police have said.
"I do support Butler County's attempt to really help our teenagers," said Debi LaFrankie of West Chester Township.
Her daughter, Kelly, was clocked at 83 mph in a 65-mph zone on Interstate 75 on Feb. 29. Because Kelly had a prior violation, Bruewer suspended her license for 90 days.
"I think that's fair," Mrs. LaFrankie said after the hearing. "She was going too fast."
Bruewer agreed to allow Kelly limited driving privileges so she can continue attending a private school. But he refused to grant her permission to drive to work. "If that means you lose your job, you lose your job," Bruewer said. He emphasized to Kelly that, as fast as she was going, her seat belt and air bags probably would not have saved her in a crash.
Over and over, Bruewer urged the teens, "Spread the word: Please have everybody slow down."
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